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The ancient Greeks valued hospitality and treated guests extremely well. A guest, even a total stranger, was offered the best seat at the table, food, wine, a bath, and fresh clothing. When he departed, he was given fine gifts. Hospitality was important for a number of reasons. First, the Greeks believed the guest could be a god in disguise, come to test them. They definitely wanted to pass the test, for they feared the wrath of the gods. They also hoped to be treated well themselves when they traveled, so their hospitality is reciprocal. A third reason is based on their desire for entertainment and news. Greek villages and settlements were far apart, and people were eager for new forms of entertainment besides that provided by the local people. Likewise, they wanted news, which was much more difficult to get then than it is now. A traveler could bring news so it paid to be nice to him.
When Odysseus traveled, he was treated well by everywhere he went except by Polyphemus, the Cyclops, who said he didn't fear the gods. The Phaecians treated him royally without even asking his name for two days before they took him home. Hospitality is a major theme in The Odyssey.
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